The Call of the Warlords
As the day went by, Zero diligently worked under the tutelage of Ren out in a shack behind the Royal Library. It was a very humble shack, not big enough to be noticed or easily destroyed. It was hidden behind tall trees and plants and was barely recognizable. One would bypass it without a single look. Zero and Ren worked in the small clearing while Agnis and Zeraph stood by watching and chatting with one another.
In the open clearing, Zero and Ren diligently worked together to get the O.M.s ready. There were shards of broken crystal clear balls laid out haphazardly in rows on top of a stump. Ren stood next to Zero as he directed him through the whole process. Zero was sitting down in his Origin form grinding the ingredients in a marble mortar, trying to make them into fine powder.
“Be careful not to burn down my secret area. I love this place,” stated Ren with worry.
“I’ll try not to.” Zero held out his hands to push back Ren from coming too close. He carefully placed the materials for the O.M. on the floor.
Zero had to personally go out and hunt for different monsters’ eyes and materials to create the O.M.s (Oculus-Morpheus). It was a constant vigorous grind of hunting monsters and creating the product.
“Remember, each eye that you gathered from different monsters has a specific temperament of handling and roasting temperature. Make sure to perfectly dry them out and mix them with other materials. Not only that, different qualities of eyes and levels of monsters bring forth different effects and ranges of the O.M.s. The higher the level of the monsters’ eyes, the better the quality of the end product. It will last longer, record longer, and store a larger amount of data,” lectured Ren. He leaned over to see how Zero was doing.
A couple of times Zero had to experiment on the ratio of using his fire breath that he had honed and almost perfected since the day he breathed his first fire. It was a process of trial and error until finally it came naturally to him. A couple of times he had almost burned off Agnis’s and Ren’s hair.
Inhaling in a sharp breath, Zero spewed out a burst of flames. Its blazing fire caught onto Zeraph’s clothes as he was passing by. He was bringing Zero another stash of monster eyes that he and Agnis had personally gone out to get.
“Zeraph, your clothes are on fire!” exclaimed Agnis as she gasped and watched dumbfounded. “Hold still; let me call upon the rain.” She jumped in, ready to help.
“No!” both Zeraph and Zero simultaneously shouted back. They did not want a repeat of a thunderstorm or worse, possibly calling a tsunami.
“Hurry, get some water!” Ren shouted at the top of his lungs as he rushed over to Zeraph. Agnis hurriedly ran over to go find something to put out the fire with, while Zeraph collapsed onto the ground and rolled around in the dirt, trying to put out the fire.
It was a sight to behold: a mop-looking rabbit trying to put out the fire with his foot and Zeraph rolling around on the ground. Zeraph had to skillfully dodge and roll out of the reach of Ren’s stomping foot.
“Hold still,” Ren grumbled loudly.
“Damn rabbit, you watch where you’re trying to place that foot! Are you trying to break me?” Zeraph dodged Ren’s heavy stomping.
“If you hold still we would get this over with!” Ren yelled back in frustration. Deep imprints were formed in the ground.
Throughout the whole time, Zero was in his Origin form sitting down comfortably and holding onto the marble mortar. A burp escaped his throat as a puff of fire left his nostrils.
Luckily Zero’s time limit in his Origin form had increased by an hour, giving him a total of two hours. He still did not understand why he had such a harsh limiter in his Origin form, but he did not complain. He had a limited amount of time, so he worked quickly and diligently while Agnis and Zeraph went out to collect the materials. He had to mix the ground-up monster eyes with other materials and use his fire breath to melt it at a specific temperature to meld them together. Then he would gather the hot melted materials, pour them into an empty circular cavity, and leave it to cool down. Then he had to personally peel the hardened shell off the glass orb.
“Hey Zero, what do each one of those even do?” Agnis asked curiously. She peered over his shoulder to look at his handiwork. In total Zero had made four decently shaped O.M.s.
“These red ones can record for about ten minute each.” Zero showed two small pebble-sized crystal balls. “This one records about thirty minutes.” A purple colored marble was shown next. Agnis stared upon it with curiosity.
“Now this one is special. It’s made from a rare monster that Ren has given me to use. It has a three hour limit of recording, and it states on the menu that it has some kind of special added features to it. I’m not sure what it is though.” Zero scratched his chin with his paws. “There was nothing more to the description.”
The final O.M. crystal glowed brilliantly sea blue as it magically shifted and morphed fluidly like water. He did not know what exactly it would allow him to do or what it would ask him to do.
“What’s the purpose of even doing all this? Don’t we have a recording function on this game?” asked Zeraph, brushing ash off his clothes.
“No. I looked for it, but there is none. I had to download a separate application to connect it with the gear and tried it out. I still wasn’t able to use those recordings for the book. It doesn’t even take any of it in,” sighed Zero.
“What are you now, a movie maker?” Zeraph raised his eyebrow and his eyes seemed to laugh at his predicament.
“Truthfully, it feels like it.” Zero nodded. He was not sure what the purpose for all this was. “At least I have learned a couple of new skills.”
“Like what, manual labor?” Zeraph snickered.
“No.” Zero rolled his eyes as his paws started to grind into the ground with irritation. The skills he had learned were not many. They were Recording, Creation of Oculus-Morpheus, Destruction of Oculus-Morpheus, Restoring of Oculus-Morpheus, and Fire Breath. He read through the statuses one more time.
Allow the use of the beholder to record a certain amount of data for the duration of the Oculus-Morpheus time limit.
|Creation of Oculus-Morpheus
Using higher class monster ingredients will increase the time of the Oculus-Morpheus. Also special properties will be added depending on the rarity of monster and quality of the crystal.
|Destruction of Oculus-Morpheus
Crushing or destroying an Oculus-Morpheus will play the recording inside it one time.
|Restoring of Oculus-Morpheus
Restore a destroyed Oculus-Morpheus to its original form, but be aware that there are only a certain number of times one could restore it to its original form without completely breaking it.
From continuously eating flint, the body is now able to naturally create fire. To keep the body constantly producing fire one must eat flint often.
Zero was surprised it took till now for him to learn the fire breath. He thought the moment he had accidentally used it would have allowed him to learn the skill like every other one, but it did not happen till he constantly used it for work. He wondered if there were a couple of skills that required a constant training to gain while the others were done instinctively.
“Well. Look how well these have come out,” stated Ren as he admiringly stared at the O.M.s. All four of the O.M.s sparkled brightly under the sunlight. “At the level you are now, you have learned how to create your own. You do not need me anymore. I recommend you go out into the world and learn from other masters.”
“Wait, you’re not the only one?” Zero asked with a bit of disappointment in his voice. He thought it was all over.
“Yes. This world is not just me, you know. I personally learned from nine other grand masters to create this skill. I have traveled far and wide to learn their skills. Go and search them out. They will help you become better at what you do. Luckily you have the ability to breathe fire without having to create fire from scratch.” Ren looked upon him with envy. Zero slightly blushed with embarrassment. “You should put that to good use.”
|Quest: History of Drezo Regalia apprenticeship has been completed.
Quest History of Drezo Regalia has been updated.As the guardian of the Historia, you have been given the task to find who and what you truly are before you can become the True Guardian of Historia. You must find the lost history of your race and record it into the book of Historia.
Learn the nine arts of the Record Keeper. (1/9 completed.)
Difficulty Level: D
“Well, if you have nothing more to do with me, I need to get back to my work. Now shoo.” Ren motioned them off.
“Thanks, Ren.” Zero bowed. He smiled with glee. He was now one step closer to his goal in completing his quest.
Ren smiled back with a grunt and continued on his work.
The bright sun set towards the horizon. Its cascading sunlight cast a beautiful harmonious display of red, yellow, and orange. Magic hour was starting. Loud bustling crowds moved in the City of Diadem as it crawled with life. Merchants jubilantly sold their products to the citizens. Soft music flowed throughout the open town square and accentuated the liveliness of the people. A variety of smells from freshly made home-cooked food tickled the people’s noses, bringing starving customers to the stands.
Zero walked amongst the busy crowds as he looked upon the freshly cooked food with hunger. His stomach growled riotously. Agnis diligently moved from stand to stand looking upon the products with eager eyes. Zeraph on the other hand quietly followed behind them both, watching his surroundings tentatively.
“Zero, we need to try out this food.” Agnis pointed out some kind of dish with octopus on it. Zero studied the food with interest but stopped himself from going any further.
“You’re joking, right? The tentacles are moving…” Zero stated as he reeled with a bit of unease. Sushi was okay, but live moving food was a bit too much.
“Come on, let’s try something new,” Agnis begged. “You always tend to eat the same things that you are comfortable with.”
“Yeah, for a good reason, I love my life. What about you, Zeraph—would you try that?” Zero pointed out the food that lay in front of them.
“Why not? It does look delicious. Just cut it into smaller pieces,” replied Zeraph. He smirked at Zero. “The wiggling part is just extra. Think of it as calamari.”
“You’re not helping,” groaned Zero. “Calamari I can take, but moving tentacles are a different story. Those suction cups could get stuck in my throat and kill me. Have you ever heard about that before? It’s happened in real life.”
“Yep. It’s a risk you have to take for good food. Have you tried the Japanese puffer fish? You have to literally sign a paper stating that the chef is not at fault when you eat sashimi. Its tetrodotoxin is so deadly it could paralyze and kill you, but it tastes amazing.”
Zero looked at him strangely. A tentacle was not worth dying for at the moment. Going through death in this game was like one of those zombie apocalypse movies.
A loud yell was heard off in the distance. Zero, Agnis, and Zeraph turned towards the sound to see what was going on.
“Hot news! Hot news! The Seed Shard quest is not over! Aldran has called for a large meeting! Come to the grand stadium for the news!” a young boy yelled at the top of his lungs.
The young boy stood on top of a small wooden box so he could holler into the crowd. NPCs talked amongst themselves as they became nervous.
“Something big is going to happen. We need to be prepared.”
“What, you think Aldran has failed?” said a young lady, shocked.
“Please god no,” an old woman said, and swooned.
“Is this the end of our city because of his failure?” gasped one of the watching farmers. Like a tidal wave the panic spread throughout the crowds.
“That’s crazy! I thought they were better than that.”
“What will happen to us? No… what will happen to our children?”
“I’m not so sure, but we need to be prepared.”
“We need to protect ourselves,” cried another as she hurriedly walked back to her shop.
While the NPCs worriedly chatted amongst themselves, the players were completely different. In the crowd there were admirers and players who were jealous of the Hercules Guild’s fame.
“The Hercules Guild failed? Impossible!” said one of the male players, amused.
“Finally those snobby Hercules are put down a couple of pegs. They deserved that.”
“What are you talking about? Hercules Guild has helped me out quite a lot. Don’t slander their name,” said one of the players angrily.
“They only say they’re helping. Like all big guilds they take it upon themselves to boost
their own morals. It’s nothing new.”
“Come on, it’s Hercules. It’s news. The boy has not stated that they had failed. They might be giving us some information about some kind of new quest. Maybe they had another quest that we don’t know about. Right?”
“What do you think they will be talking about at the grand stadium?”
“I’m not so sure. Hopefully we’ll get to see it. It’s going to be crowded. We need to get there as early as possible. There are not going to be any seats left for us to sit if we get there late.”
“Do you think something cool will happen?”
“I’m not sure, but I do hope so,” said one of the players excitedly.
“Doesn’t matter, we should go to the grand stadium tonight and advertise our guild. Maybe we will be lucky enough to get some of the higher-level guild members from Hercules Guild to come join our guild instead.”
As the players and NPCs conversed amongst themselves, Zero weaved in and out of the crowd to listen to more about the young boy’s announcement. He was curious about what was going to happen next. Agnis and Zeraph stood back in the crowds. Zeraph crossed his arms and stood still like a statue. Agnis leaned on his shoulder and made herself comfortable.
“Once again, the time is around sunset. There are only a limited number of seats available. It’s first come first serve! Aldran, the guild master, stated that there is more to the Seed Shard quest! Supposedly it was activated a couple of days ago. It’s an emergency meeting!” the young boy yelled over the crowd. More and more gathered around him, trying to hear the rest.
People poured out of the buildings, curious at the large crowd that was forming. It was not something that people saw often.
A loud trumpet blew, signaling the people. Silence followed right after as players and NPCs’ heads turn towards the unusual announcement. People parted like the sea to let the large group of players pass through.
In the center of the formation, surrounded by an even brighter glow, walked an unarmed figure draped in voluminous folds of blood red and silver armor. It was Aldran, the leader of the Hercules Guild, and Gullifer, the handsome, dangerous-looking man in black leather by his side. His guild mates followed behind him quietly in an orderly fashion with similar silver armored outfits.
Children and residents looked upon them with awe. As the procession moved closer, the crowd surged forward, everyone straining for a better look. Aldran walked forward with grace as he passed through the large crowd of people.
The crowd went dead silent. Only the chirping of birds and bugs could be heard. Like the rest, Zero, Agnis, and Zeraph also followed behind them.
The large groups of people followed Aldran like a herd of sheep following its shepherd, blindly being led without any questions. They walked earnestly behind him, waiting for a single word from Aldran about what had happened. But no words escaped his mouth.
The crowd marched behind him closely as they all moved in fluid harmony. Wherever Aldran stepped they followed after; even when he stopped for a split moment, the crowd stood still. A murmur rose among them.
“I can’t believe it, Aldran is here,” squealed a female player with glee. “Aldran and Gullifer are so dreamy. It’s like god has created them like a piece of art.”
“Agreed,” swooned another.
“I wish either one of them was my boyfriend,” sighed a female player.
“What do you think he would say? There have been reports that all the famous guild lords are coming to this meeting.”
“Really? That’s amazing! That means we will even be seeing the Water Rose Guild, Deep Drive Guild, Grand Legion Guild, and many more.”
“Pfft. There’s nothing so great about them. It is just some kind of get together to show off their strength. Come on, it’s just a power contest. There’s nothing too much to really hope for.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that. This is the first time all the guild leaders have come together in one place. It is unheard of.”
The players nodded in agreement. Zero quietly listened as he used his hearing skill to eavesdrop on people. He selectively listened into different conversations and tuned out the others as best as he could towards the topics that interested him the most. While he was skimming through the different conversations, he heard a soft murmur between Gullifer and Aldran.
“Aldran. Do we need to tell everyone about this? You know we could handle this by ourselves. They don’t need to know this.”
“No. We need to do this. It’s important that they know. It could affect all of us if we are not careful,” stated Aldran sternly.
Gullifer sighed with disappointment.
“If you say so. I personally believe that it is not such a big deal. It’s another quest. We have accomplished so many things. How is this any different from anything else?”
“It is. The other lords are waiting. We need to get there on time.”
What are they talking about? thought Zero. What could be so important that everyone needs to be there? For the guild master of Hercules to be so riled up made him curious about what they might say.
“What’s going on?” asked Agnis. She followed closely beside Zero.
“I don’t know, but something major just happened. We might be in for some kind of trouble,” replied Zero.
“The amount of trouble you get in a game is barely anything compared to real life.” Zeraph smirked.
“You’re being a dick again, Zeraph. Come on. Chill out. Is your handsome face for show while your lips are for speaking words to bash people with?” Agnis snapped back.
“My lips are sweet like honey. Would you like to try?” Zeraph smirked and wiggled his eyebrows.
“Pass. It’s too toxic to even try. I think I’ll probably be dead from it.”
“You guys are idiots.” Zero shook his head. “How do you deal with him, Agnis?”
“Easy. Throw him a couple of bones and he’ll be distracted for a while.” Agnis snickered as she nudged Zeraph.
“Bones? Pfft. Hardly. I—”
“Guys,” Zero interjected with a hurried tone. Both Agnis and Zeraph turned to see what Zero was pointing at.
The crowd halted. In front of them was a medieval style grand stadium. Its pearly white columns were painted yellowish-orange by the sunset. Glowing green fireflies moved like lazy ocean waves when people passed by, and their magical green auras trailed behind them. Large, beautiful green plants coiled around the building, their leaves overshadowing the people.
One by one, the blazing white stadium lights turned on all around. A whoosh of wind lightly brushed against the people. Aldran’s silver armor glowed brilliantly. Gullifer followed closely behind him like a shadow, one complementing the other. Compared to others around them, they stood out completely from the rest.
Zero looked upon the coliseum with awe. There were three famous buildings in the city of Terra: the castle, the Royal Library, and the grand stadium that no other city could rival. These were the most visited and sought-out spots in the city. He wondered how the Hercules Guild could afford to rent out the whole grand stadium for such an enormous occasion.
In single file lines, the NPCs and players streamed in through different entrances around the stadium. Following with them were Zero, Agnis, and Zeraph.
“Wow. I heard about this place, but never got a chance to get in,” stated Agnis in awe. “It costs too much to get in usually. Today it only costs silver.”
“Well then, let’s quickly go find ourselves some close-up seats. It’s going to be difficult to hear them,” said Zero in a hurried tone. He did not want to be in the back, and not able to see or hear anything.
“Nah. I heard that this stadium uses some kind of sound magic to amplify the voices. We should be alright,” replied Agnis.
Zero’s group shuffled behind the line of people. In the long hallways were banners of different famous guilds’ names plastered against the walls like trophies. Upon exiting the hall, they walked up the cold stone steps, which were hand carved and jagged from the wear and tear of the weather. As they finally reached the open air of the stadium, they stood back with jaws agape.
Stretched out before them were rows upon rows of stone benches symmetrically laid out perfectly between one another. In the center of all the benches was a wide open field where the grass was neatly trimmed. In the middle of the field was a grand round table with twelve chairs equally spaced out around it. It reminded him of a football stadium, just without the white lines and poles.
In each of the different entrances of the stadium, different guild lords walked in with their banners trailing behind them with large groups of their guild members. Their fans almost equally divided right behind them seated in the stadium. The twelve famous guild lords arrived one by one. They were WaterRose Guild, DeepDrive Guild, Grand Legion Guild, Zenith Guild, Soulkal Guild, Black Turret Guild, Rangerz Guild, Zoulz Guild, KillemAll Guild, TemperMint Guild, KrissKross Guild, and the last Hercules Guild.
“Is that WaterRose Guild?” gawked Agnis. “It is Liliac! Zero, it’s Liliac!” She shook Zero so hard that he got dizzy.
“Okay. Okay. Stop. That hurts.” Agnis let go of Zero and strained to look over other people to see Liliac off in the distance.
“You know she is the number one most powerful female guild leader of Noriene.” Agnis’s eyes stuck to the guild lord Liliac like glue.
Out of all twelve of the guilds, Hercules was the least powerful. WaterRose guild rivaled the number one spot with Grand Legion. As he watched Liliac off in the distance, he could see her armor was blue and draped down in a metal skirt that shimmered like water underneath the stadium lights. Her curly brown hair flowed behind her like seaweed, while her skirt fluttered and showed off her stunning legs. Trailing behind her like a blazing fire was her second in command Ten. His scarlet armor blazed like the hot sun. His jet-black hair and black eyes accentuated the bright armor with a dark gleam. His black sword emphasized his intimidating look.
Right next to Liliac, a black panther walked intimidatingly by her side. It snarled with its pearl-white fangs and snapped at anyone who came too close to her other than Ten. A couple of the nearby players moved back with alarm and went back into formation. Its powerful sleek muscles glistened underneath the light, highlighting its fierceness.
One by one, the leaders of each guild sat in one of the twelve chairs with their second-in-command standing behind them. The crowd became silent as they watched with anticipation. A shimmering magical light appeared before the people as a large live holographic image played over the leaders. As each leader’s face was shown, loud explosions of applause and cheers erupted.
Zero took out one of his O.M.s. He had a feeling that this meeting would be well worth recording.
Aldran pushed back his chair and stood up first before the other guild leaders. He straightened his back and cleared his throat.
“I would like to thank all of you for coming out here today. This is truly a momentous occasion,” stated Aldran with glee.
“Yeah, yeah. Get on with it,” a troll guild leader, Kyo of KillemAll guild, replied rudely in annoyance. The tall, ugly troll in evil-looking dark green armor pounded his fist against the table. “We don’t got all day.”
“Why I ought to—” snarled Gullifer as he reached over for his sword. Kyo’s second in command, a female troll named Fielian, responded with an angry snarl as spit escaped her lips. Her brows scrunched forward with anger and her chest puffed up in size. She also reached for her bloody-looking club, ready for combat.
Aldran held up his hand and stopped Gullifer from jumping down Kyo’s throat.
“Fielian. Gullifer. Put down your weapon now!” Aldran shouted with a stern voice. “Call off your warrior, Kyo. We did not come here to start a bloodbath. Do you wish to start a war here and now where everyone can see?” He glared at Kyo with annoyance.
Kyo sat back and considered the dilemma in front of him. When he gave a swift flick of his hands, Fielian put away her club.
“Now back to what we were talking about. As you all know, the Seed Shard quest has been completed. This is true, but the after effect of the quest is underway. It is not a quest. I repeat. Not a quest.”
“Then why did you send out messages to the announcers that it is continuing? Then wouldn’t what you said be wrong?” Kyo asked with irritation.
“Would you have come if I merely stated something is going to happen or would you come when there is a possibility to join in on a Seed Shard quest?” Aldran stared back, waiting for an answer. Kyo did not reply.
An explosion of talking between the guild leaders erupted, each one louder than the other.
“Not a quest?”
“Then what can it be if it’s not a quest?”
As the disgruntled voices intensified, a sweet voice cut through the ruckus.
“What do you mean?” said Liliac as she stood up. “Are you stating that even if these Seed Shard quests are completed, there will always be some kind of aftermath? Wouldn’t that be considered not truly completed? Pray tell what did you do in this quest to have such a strong effect on this world?”
Silence followed after as the people leaned over to hear the answer.
“First off, there are only nine Seed Shards in existence.”
“How do you know this? There could be more,” Liliac asked as she folded her arms.
“No. It specifically has a number of available Seed Shards written on the status menu for the seed. I received the first ever known Seed Shard quest. The stage was called Growth’s Seed: Dispersal, and like the announcement stated, the second stage of Growth had gone into effect. What this second stage is going to be about, we do not know; nor do we know where to find more Seed Shards or the name of the other quests.”
Aldran stood up and began to slowly walk around the table.
“We have scoured through hell and back to complete the quest. It was worth every bit of it. The roars of high level monsters, the exhilarating and heart thumping fights, and the best part of it all, the rewards.” Aldran reminisced on the past glories. A couple of the other guild leaders looked upon him with envy. He snapped back to reality.
“Now what we need to worry about is the aftermath of the next stage. That is what all of you guys are here for.”
The guild leaders inched closer to listen to his words.
“Aldran, is it wise to tell them?” Gullifer said with concern.
“It’s fine. They need to know the truth. I am not an immortal man. I will fail, but that does not mean I will give up.” His voice rose with power. “My guild has failed to stop the oncoming swarms of the undead land sharks.”
A gasp escaped the lips of the listeners, and they whispered quietly amongst each other.
“These undead land sharks are not like any other undead that we have ever faced. They cannot be stopped with holy magic nor with any other known magic. It just bypasses them as if it’s nothing.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re saying that holy magic doesn’t affect the undead like it used to? What sense does that make?” said Kyo in disbelief. “What has your priest been doing? Sleeping on the job?” he snickered as he lazily waved his hands. “If I knew better, I would think your guild is not competent enough to take on this problem. Leave it to our guild and we will wipe them all away in one blow.” He pounded his hands on his chest.
“You’re getting on my nerves,” Gullifer said and inched forward.
“You’re quick to anger as usual, Gullifer. This is why I have fun being around you.” Kyo goaded Gullifer even further.
A muscular human man with a goatee, named Jergorien, who wore heavy armor sat across from Kyo. “Are you saying your guild can take them on? The last that I heard, your guild had been wiped out in a dungeon exploration not too long ago. Are you sure you’re up for this?” Jergorien replied with a chuckle. He leaned forward towards Kyo with a smile. His giant crusader shield was strapped onto his back. He was the leader of the Grand Legion guild who rivaled number one with the WaterRose guild. A stout dwarf with heavy brown armor stood behind him. His second in command, Reiwin, chuckled.
“Jergorien, who told you that? All that is lies. We have not failed,” Kyo replied with anger as he looked upon Jergorien and Reiwin. “It must be that lazy dwarf behind you that told you those lies.” He glared angrily towards Reiwin. Reiwin shifted his weight in unease.
“Just because you have bad blood with Reiwin, doesn’t mean you need to go accusing people of your failure,” Jergorien replied, laughing at Kyo’s outrageous remarks. “And don’t think that your guild is the only one whose problems we know about.” He individually glanced upon each guild leader’s eyes. Power and tension rose dramatically as most of the guild leaders looked back unnerved.
“Guys. Guys. Our problem is not with each other. I know each of you have all come here from different cities to hear this out, but the whole Fire Continent will be under attack. These undead land sharks are coming from the eastern side of the Fire Continent, from the Electric Continent.”
“You kidding, right? Don’t you know that the barrier that protects the Continent is in effect?” Kyo replied as his eyes scrunched up with disbelief. “How are they supposed to cross through that protection?”
“The barrier around the continent might not be working anymore. Somehow, the completion of the Seed Shard quest triggered a shutdown. My scouts report that the guardian statues at the edge of the continent are not glowing anymore.”
A young elf leader of Zenith guild named Acemith interjected with concern, “Are you sure it’s not recharging or something? This could spell trouble throughout the Fire Continent. Aren’t Light, Dark, Wind, and Ether Continent monsters able to come in as well?”
This realization made all the squabbling leaders fall into a stunned silence.
“This could truly spell disaster. We don’t know how strong the monsters are in any one of those continents, nor could we be able to protect ourselves from them without any further information about them,” Acemith continued.
“Then does that mean we could settle down on the other continents as well, or are they still blocked off?” Jergorien asked. He slowly clasped his hands and rested his head on them.
“We can’t be sure till we go try it out. All we know is that the Electric Continent is open for settlement, and that is a definite,” stated Aldran and paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. “There are many problems out there that need our attention, but our main concern is the land sharks that are coming this way. If we fail to defeat them, not only will the City of Diadem be overrun with monsters, but the City of Elements will be attacked at the same time. When these two cities fall, the other cities are next, and we would literally be out of a place to live in safety. We need to band together to solve this problem as quickly as possible.”
“How long before they arrive?” asked Acemith as he drummed his fingers against the table.
“They’re going to be here two days around sunset.”
“What!” Acemith stated in complete shock. “So soon?”
Aldran nodded his head. A burst of heated arguments erupted into chaos.
“We need to send forces right now!” Kyo stood up as he pointed to the leaders. “What are we waiting for? We don’t have time to be dawdling here. Who’s with me?”
A couple of the leaders shouted while the others nodded their heads in agreement.
“Yes, but that is not the wise way to tackle this situation. We need a plan to counter them. How are we supposed to fight an undead without being able to harm them? Our warriors will be as defenseless as lambs led to slaughter,” stated Jergorien. He leaned back as he folded his hands. “If we all die, what we had meticulously earned till now will be completely gone. What would you do next then?” With one raised eyebrow he looked upon Kyo for an answer.
“Hmph. We don’t need a plan; our way is that we get things done in seconds. This is how we’ve always done things and it always has come out with the best results,” Kyo grunted.
“Then what about this? Half of us will stay here and the other half will go to the City of Elements. Then one guild out of the six will search for any information about how to kill these new pests, while the other five guilds will lead all other smaller guilds to get the city ready for tomorrow.” Liliac’s words cut through the conversation like a blade. Throughout the whole time she was carefully listening to their conversations. “Whatever this new problem is, we need information about it fast. We cannot go blindfolded into a problem and hope everything will be alright. Tell us more about these creatures. We need to know what you have seen to understand how they are able to pass the light magic.” Liliac sat back down. Aldran was already halfway around the table.
“She has a valid point. What can you tell us?” Jergorien asked.
Aldran stopped moving for a moment to ponder. “What they do is take over a dead host and use it to attack us. Even trying to get rid of the body won’t do much good. They move into the next carcass as quickly as they appear. If there are no monster carcasses left, they take over the dead player’s body. Priests can barely hold them back. Any light magic that is thrown at them is buffered by some kind of grayish aura. I have never seen such magic before.”
A young boy with indigo blue clothes chimed in. “Have you tried destroying them while they transition between hosts?” His grayish eyes glowed with curiosity at the answer Aldran was going to give. He bolted upright onto the chair with elation as his hood fell backwards, showing his young round face.
“Remix. You’re the guild leader of Deep Drive. Please sit down and compose yourself. It’s unsightly of you,” chastised an elf maiden wearing all green with glasses perched on the tip of her nose. Her golden hair flowed naturally behind her. Her high cheekbones and sharp jaw accentuated her pretty face.
“Aw, come on, Eternal. You’re like my mom. Give me a break. This is way too interesting to hear,” whined Remix. He flopped back down onto his chair and pulled his hood back on.
“Kekeke. She is like your mom, Remix. I don’t understand how you of all people became a guild leader,” leered Kyo.
“Excuse me. Keep your opinions to yourself. Do you always need to pick a fight with everyone?” Eternal snapped back.
“Calm down. Eternal. Let him be. It doesn’t bother me. Just ignore him.” Remix smiled softly towards Eternal. He rested his hands on hers.
“As you wish,” she said with disappointment. A soft click of metal was heard as it was stashed away into her sleeves.
“I have already tried that,” Aldran replied. “That is what we did, but that is specifically when the weird aura-like barrier appears around them and phases them out of harm’s way. I don’t understand how they are doing this.”
“Is that all?” asked Liliac.
“I suppose it is better than nothing. We need to split up and deal with this problem as soon as possible.”
“We should divide ourselves equally. We do not want to be imbalanced when we tackle this problem,” said Jergorien.
“I’ll work with DeepDrive, Zenith, Soulkal, TemperMint, and KrissKross,” stated Liliac without a second thought. “I know their specialties better than you. We will take the City of Elements as well.” She challenged Jergorien. Jergorien did not waver.
“You’re asking for a lot, aren’t you, Liliac. Are you going to ask next for the keys to my house?” joked Jergorien. He smiled at her, but Liliac glared back.
“Fine. Black Turret, Rangerz, Zoulz, KillemAll, Zenith, and Hercules will come with me,” Liliac replied.
“What? Why do you get to choose? Shouldn’t we choose who we want to work with? And who made you the boss?” Kyo said angrily.
“Nobody did,” Liliac replied. “But I have personally worked with each of you, so I understand your guild’s specialties. Not all of you have worked with one another more than once. Wouldn’t it be better for someone to quickly go through the small details and move on to the more important things?”
Kyo fell silent.
“Does anyone disagree?”
No one answered.
“Well then, if no one has a disagreement with the plan, we will split ways and head over to our locations now.” Jergorien pushed back his chair as he stood up. “With that being the case, we will all hold a separate meeting to go over the details of what exactly we need to do.” He turned around to the viewers in the stadium. He cleared his throat.
“As you all heard about the predicament that has fallen to our continent, we will set up a special event quest for the players who want to join us in facing this problem. Truthfully, there is no grand reward to offer, but to protect the place of our homes is your reward. Do not take advantage of our place to live. You must not take these cities for granted. We could be out mauling through a chaotic street barely able to survive. This game has become our second home, our second place to live in a reality where magic is real.”
The crowd held onto each of his words as if they were their own.
“Come and join the crusade towards our liberation, and conquer the world together!” Jergorien raised his silver sword into the air. A burst of powerful thunder magic erupted from the sky. A bolt of lightning struck down onto the tip of his sword and lit it up with electric sparks, giving off a golden-emerald color. A heavy static energy filled the air, and people’s hair stood on edge from the electricity. A pulsating wave of power rushed outwards towards the people and brushed past them with no harm. Silence filled the air as the crowd watched with awe.
As the electricity quelled down, silence followed after. Then a burst of chants began.
“I love you, Jergorien!” screamed the female players in glee.
“Marry me!” yelled another.
“Grand Legion! Grand Legion! Grand Legion!” shouted the players and NPCs in an ongoing chant. A thunderous stomping of feet against the ground was heard throughout the stadium. Wild screams and cheers erupted as players threw confetti, hats, and items up in the air.
An eerie gust of green smoke appeared around the stadium, silencing the crowd. An unearthly terrifying shriek echoed throughout the arena. A cold blast of wind blew across the people as they coughed and glanced around in bewilderment.
An alarming message appeared on the screens of all the players and guild members.
|You have been cursed. All status attributes will decrease over time. Every six hours all status points will go down by 1. There is no cure for this ailment until the source has been eradicated.|
|Special Hidden Quest Alpha has been activated
An unusual eerie curse has set upon the people of Noriene. All residents and players are cursed till the source has been eradicated. You must defeat the wave of the undead land sharks and the source that brings upon the curse.
Requirements: The Seed Shard quest: Dispersal must be completed. The top twelve warlords of Noriene must be in the same room and the majority must agree to combat the threat of Noriene. Once agreed upon, guilds may form temporary alliances and send out invitations to other players. Players who have watched the meeting may choose which group they want to join for the duration of the quest. NPCs must also join in on the quest. All requirements also apply to the NPCs or death shall follow.
Reward: One high level armor from the highest level of monsters that you kill during the duration of three days for each person.
Failure: Failure to complete this quest will lose a third of your gold, ten levels, and one of your best equipment. Also all NPC in the cities will shun away from you.
Deadline: The quest must be completed in three days.
If you choose to walk amongst the dead you will automatically die from the curse and will be forced to walk amongst the dead without any of your gear. All armor and items will be blocked for use until resurrections. Resurrection time has been extended to three days till the completion of the quest.
The crowd looked upon the message with unease, confusion, and horror. Their voices wavered in helplessness.
“What is this?”
“Cursed? How did this happen? What’s going on?”
“What? We have no choice on whether or not we do this quest? Are we forced to fight or die?”
The disgruntled voices turned into hysteria.
“Enough!” Liliac yelled at the top of her lungs as she looked upon the crowd. Silence followed after, as they attentively looked upon her.
“This is not something we have to worry about. When the world comes together, we all have a chance to defeat this quest quickly and efficiently. Choose your answer. This is not impossible. Remember we have each other. Do not choose death; you all have a chance to earn the places of the best and even better a rare item.”
The crowd settled down as they all agreed with her. Zero, and many others around him, accepted the quest. “Come on, let’s get out of here.” Zeraph nudged both Zero and Agnis.
“What? Why? It’s just getting better,” said Agnis excitedly as she threw up her arms wildly. “Come on, a little longer?” she pleaded.
“No. We need to go. If what they are saying is true, we need to go now and buy our materials. All the shops are going to be packed and the things that we need won’t be many.”
“Ugh. Fine.” She sighed.
“You too, Zero. We can’t stay here.” Zeraph turned around to talk to Zero, but stopped in surprise.
Zero was punching the Historia, which was magically levitating in front of him and trying to eat his O.M. Its white tendrils smacked him back a couple of times, struggling to absorb the glass sphere.
“I know.” He struggled with Historia a bit more as he stuffed it back into his bag. People around him watched dumbfounded.
“Luckily I got the most important things recorded for now. It seems the thirty minute O.M. was enough to record the whole event,” said Zero with strain as he wrestled with the book a bit more. With one last smack he stuffed it back in the bag.
He was a bit worried that he had to stop the recording in between if he did not have enough minutes. Carefully placing the O.M. into his bag, he turned around and followed Zeraph. Pushing through crowds, ducking from wild arm swings, they maneuvered around the people and tried not to get hit.
“I wanted to see Liliac a bit more. Jergorien was cool too, but Liliac, she silenced everybody. She has such a beautiful voice.” Agnis continued to daydream about her.
“What next? You’re going to pluck out her hair and save it as a collector’s item?” Zero teased her.
“You know what… maybe I should.”
Zero looked at her, bewildered. “It was a joke. You know that, right?”
“You know how much locks of famous people hair could go for? Especially in this game where there are many fanatics who follow after her like she’s some kind of god. I would make a killing off it. Don’t worry. Maybe one day your patches of fur will be popular to make a coat.” Her eyes glistened as her lips turned up into a grin. “I already started collecting.”
Zero’s mouth dropped. “Please no. I cannot believe you’re already selling me off.”
“No. Not yet.”
“It’s not enough. It seems I need to collect just a bit more to make my first winter coat, and better yet, because it seems you are the only creature of your kind to be ever seen by the public, people might actually buy it off the shelf like hot cakes.”
Zero stopped to ponder her statement for a moment. It did made sense that selling his fur coat could bring in a high amount of gold, but the thought of someone wearing his fur made him feel uneasy.
“You remember that day when you died?”
“Yeah. What about it?”
“Well you see, as I was dealing with your dead body….” She shuffled her foot around. “Apparently, your pelt was harvested by the city cleaners. I had to stop them from taking it. I can give it to you if you want it back.” She shyly peered up at him.
Zero looked at her, horrified. “I-I-I been what?” He slurred and muttered his speech together.
Zeraph patted him hard on his back. “You’ve been skinned, buddy.”
Zero stopped dead in his tracks.
Agnis waved her hands in front of his face, worried that shock overtook his system. “Hello? I’ll give it back to you. Come on, Zero. Snap out of it.” She snapped her fingers in his face.
Zero shook himself back to reality. He extended his hands, which shook slightly, toward her. Agnis turned towards her backpack and rummaged in her bag. A clean black fur with gold spots was pulled out of her backpack. Not a single splotch of blood was found on his pelt.
“Here.” Agnis handed it carefully into his hands. “Are you sure I can’t keep it?” She looked at it longingly.
“No,” Zero sternly stated as he took it from her.
He stared at his pelt. The soft pelt ran through his hands. It reminded him of a cat’s fur: clean, pristine, and soft.
I’m collecting toes, eyeballs, and now my own fur. Have I become some kind of black market body part trafficker? he thought, horrified. It was so strange to hold his own pelt in his hands.
“Zeraph. Agnis. I…” Zero stopped himself as his hands slightly shook and dropped it onto the ground.
With ease, Zeraph picked it up from the ground and handed it over to him. “Wow…WOW. I don’t know what to say, Zero. This is truly strange, but I’ll get all your fur back to you. It’s already creepy enough to see this in my hand. Maybe we can make another you?” Zeraph winked at Zero, trying to diffuse the tension.
“Heh. Maybe.” Zero smiled. “Identify Zero’s Fur.”
A pelt from a young Drezo Regalia. It can be used to create clothes and armor. The quality of the pelt can be easily destroyed during the process of creation. Older pelts have stronger durability and quality.
+ 0.1% immunization to fire magic.
Zero’s jaw dropped. He could not believe that he himself could be used as a special material item. The implications worried him immensely.
“Guys. I need you to make sure you get all my pelts when I die. Okay?” He looked them dead in the eye.
“Sure.” Zeraph looked at him quizzically.
“Fine, but the first batch of armor you make goes to me, okay?” Agnis replied with a grin.
“If that’s what’s going to make you collect my pelts when I die, then yeah. I’ll do it,” said Zero with apprehension. What is wrong with this girl? he thought. Sometimes I wonder if a couple of screws are loose in her head. Turning around, a small sigh escaped his lips.
<Fallen Angel at an unknown secluded house>
July 10, 2054. 11:06 pm. <Orlando, FL >
Death. Ecstasy. Pleasure.
“The sweet smell of the living.” Fallen Angel shuddered in excitement. His hand twitched from Tourette’s. This was a high he would never ever get tired of. It was the most intimate moment with him and death. The harsh summer night made him sticky with sweat. Already the stuffy air made it slightly difficult to breathe.
He had personally watched every last second and made sure her eyes meet his like two embracing lovers. She lay dying on the floor with a knife protruding out of her chest. Her light brown hair was pasted with red, her pink sweater punctured with holes as blood pooled out in front of him. Her ballerina dress was sprawled out and pink ballerina shoes bloodied. Swirls of ruby red painted the checkered floor from her struggle.
As he noticed her body shudder, her chest heaved one final time as her life escaped from her. Slowly bending over to her face, he inhaled her last dying breath: the breath of life. He shivered with pure glee. This was the highest point of ecstasy, a pure sick pleasure he could not get enough of.
Throughout the hour he had watched her die slowly from the punctured knife wounds in her lungs. He made sure that no one was going to visit her today. No unforeseen circumstances, everything meticulous planned to the exact minute.
He was a grim reaper for hire. In the afternoon in Georgia, he completed the deal and slew the mother and child. The wife that supposedly killed her family from the custody war had hired him to slay the family for a price. She wanted to die with her child in her arms. The many gifts she wanted to take back with her in death. She didn’t have the heart to kill her own children, but knew what she did ate at her soul at the end. He scoffed at such cowardly people. It was his legacy to silence the people who asked to die with his own hands of destiny. He was the best in his field.
He gave her exactly what she wanted but made sure to add a flavor of his own twist. It truly was an exciting day. A true live art that he had painted, he personally called it the birth. He had gutted the mother and placed the dead child in her stomach. It was a harmonious picture. He could remember it perfectly, every detail, every memory. His photographic memory was one of his best gifts; he could always go back to and relive that moment.
Today he was going to create another work of art, one just as beautiful as yesterday’s or even better. These jobs were easy to do, and cleaning after was not hard, but not leaving behind evidence was a bit of a challenge. Technology had grown to the point of making it difficult to hide, but it had not stopped him. No matter, he had been doing this for thirty years now from the age of six. He was a pro. The last kill was a statement about his his love to death. Each killing had absolutely no correlation to one another except for money.
He needed to live somehow, and this was his gift. Everyone had something they were good at. With his work done, he stepped back from his art. The dead girl was in a position as if she were doing her last dance. One arm above her, the other over her heart, her right foot pointed, and the left against her right. Her hair dyed in blood and her eyes closed eternally in its sleep.
He sighed with content. He was a gentleman. He did not let anything spoil her composure. He made sure to take care of her. Not a single drop of blood dirtied his red collared long sleeves and his black jeans. Nor did it get on his black leather gloves, or on his black tie—he had rolled his sleeves back so none would get on it, but it wasn’t necessary. He kept his light brown hair slicked to the side with gel, his white pale skin was spotless, and he kept a silver cross around his neck. His gray eyes were clear as sparkling moonlight, his face chiseled and clean from any stubble. On his neck a single black drop-like tattoo decorated his neck.
It was truly an irony: after every job he completed he would sit down and pray. His left hand would not stop twitching uncontrollably, his emotions would spike making it a bit difficult to breathe, his thoughts would run rampant until he stopped and went on his knees to pray. It brought peace to his soul.
No more did his emotions fluctuate: his mind was clear and his hands were still. He got up from his kneeling position and put on his Alive gear that he took out from his pocket. His next mission would soon be sent through this gear, a personal app that been downloaded specifically to receive coded messages for his next mission. It was not hard to send and receive messages, nor was it difficult to find illicit ways to use an otherwise beneficial technology. Everything had a double side to it; it was how people used it that made technology feared.
He was surprised that this Alive gear was pretty high in security, constantly upgrading and updating. There had not been a single breach in personal information. Each Alive gear had its own unique code. Just like a fingerprint, the code was difficult to reproduce. All data was either stored or permanently deleted weekly or when it was full. Not a single trace of data was left behind. The creators of the Embryo gear could not access the data of Alive gear, unless the owner uploaded it into the internet.
He made sure that security around his Alive gear was personally updated and protected, a simple code that he got from his superiors. A message appeared in front of him.
|Devil’s Quest: Art of Ballerina has been updated.
Art of Ballerina has been completed. A life has ended and a new one has begun. A constant cycle of beginning and end. A black stain has been written in the history. No reward was given. Infamy has risen.
He was surprised he got a Devil’s Quest. He hardly considered himself a devil. A grim reaper, yes, but a devil was a bit too far-fetched for him. What he did not understand was what this Devil’s Quest was for. He had heard that there were normal quests out there that were given to the people, but this was a first. It was his second Devil’s Quest that he was given in a row—not that he minded, but it interested him.
What ripple effect he could cause by doing these quests, he wondered but he did not care. In reality he thought he was doing the right things for the world: taking out the weeds in the best way possible. These people were simply not needed any more, and so he removed them.
Quickly going through the menu he deleted the files. No fool of his caliber would leave such evidence behind. Every day he manually cleared, saved, or kept the files in his personal chip he kept literally in his body at all times. The chip was a size of a small raisin. Protected, hidden, and kept safe: his pride and his joy. The amount of data it could store was immeasurable.
|All data pertaining to the Devil’s Quest: Art of Ballerina has been deleted permanently. Please give it a couple of seconds for it to be completed.|
He was surprised that this gear created these so-called real life quests. It seemed to pick up what he wanted to do most. A mind reader possibly, but highly unlikely. If it did, it seemed it only picked up the bare minimum. He knew the Yami Hikari Company sold the basic model of the Alive gear, and personalizing it was left all to the buyers. In the last months there were an explosion of new apps and upgrades for download.
He did not completely understand how it worked. What mattered was to make sure his identity and personal information stayed anonymous.
In the past two days, he made sure everything in the house was in its exact order. His memory would make sure of that.
A coded message appeared through his Alive gear.
|Two new messages have been received
Meet with BlackStar. New Mission: Romeo and Juliet.
|Devil’s Quest: Romeo and Juliet.
Meet with BlackStar. Romeo and Juliet has been initiated. A new art has been initiated.Difficulty Level: Unknown.
Angel chuckled. A new mission. A new art. A joy he would not give up any time soon. Not that it mattered if he had another Devil’s quest. It was all the same to him. A game. The hunted and the hunter. He scrolled through the inbox and opened another message.
A package for the future. A Seed. Let your chaos bring forth justice, chaos, and the future. Welcome, child of the Fallen. Let us stain the world jet black.
“A seed? I don’t need to grow plants.” He ignored the message. A couple of seconds later, his screen turned pitch black, making it difficult to see. A fuzzy gray dot appeared in his Alive gear. It grew larger and larger into a small, raisin-sized seed.
Small roots erupted out of the seed as it grew in size and frame. It expanded and covered his glasses. Swirls of green and black danced fluidly with one another as it created more shapes of leaves. A beautiful dark flower fully bloomed. Its petals were pitch black with a reddish tint off the leaves. The screen statics and the plant disappeared.
Angel stared at the screen, wondering what just happened. He was not used to the new up-to-date technology graphics. At times he found it distracting during work, but it was something completely new for him.
Reaching over to the power button on his right side of his Alive gear, he turned it off. He left the scene whistling and twirling his silver cross keychain. Hunting season had begun.